mastermind coverRating: 3.5 stars
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Length: Novel


It’s been a week since Felix and his boyfriends, Luka and Ryder, defeated Rivers, saving Ryder from the fate of a failed blood oath. But as they learned, there is much more going on than a mysterious hit. Felix’s former mentor, Rafe, has resurfaced. Felix had thought the man dead, but he has managed to survive as a hybrid vampire/sorcerer and now he is back. The men still have a lingering connection that leave Felix vulnerable, but also provides some insight into what Rafe is planning.

As the men try to uncover Rafe’s goals, Luka and Ryder also start to explore the attraction they have for one another. Felix is thrilled that his boyfriends not only have befriended one another, but seem to also be drawn to each other. With Felix’s support and encouragement, Luka and Ryder act on their attraction and soon it is clear that there is a chance all three men could make it work together. But Rafe is still out there, with end-of-world level plans. It will take all the men have to fight against that evil and come out alive.

Mastermind is the second book in A.T. Brennan’s Legacy of the Assassins series and it follows immediately after Blood Oath, so you really will want to read these stories in order. As the first book ended, we learned that Rafe has resurfaced and is very much up to no good. The main focus of this book is the men figuring out what he is up to and how to beat him. Brennan continues to do a nice job with some detailed world building, particularly into magic and the way it all works. I also enjoyed learning more about Felix’s past and his interactions with Rafe. It is clear that he was manipulated as a young man who was left without his family and vulnerable to Rafe’s attempts at control. So I found it interesting to get that backstory on Felix and the way that has not only shaped him now, but also how it leads to his current fears about how his past will impact things with Ryder and Luka. I do continue to feel like the world building is somewhat confusing, however. There are so many rules for magic and the ways different species live and interact, and much of it just feels told to us without enough explanation to really understand the world. For example, Felix does a number of spells to try to connect with Rafe and learn his plan and they all feel somewhat similar and there seem to be such specific rules about why something works one time, but not another. I never really felt like I fully understood what was going on with the various magical interventions or how the world building worked.

On the relationship side, Luka and Ryder explore their connection here and I liked to see how accepting Felix is of his boyfriends coming together. There are some nice sexy scenes here as the guys explore their new three-way relationship and there is an enjoyable bond among the three men. I’ll admit, I was a little disappointed to see the story transition from a poly relationship with Felix and each of his boyfriends to a three-way romance, only because the former is so unusual in romance land. But that isn’t a criticism of the story so much as my own preference. That said, I think my biggest issue here was that things with Luka and Ryder go from zero to 100 so fast. The men have literally never even met until the end of the last book. That story takes place about a week prior to the start of this one, so their sum relationship is a matter of weeks. They go from getting all hot and hard upon seeing each other (in the middle of a life or death situation no less), to exploring their attraction, to being in love so fast. Considering the men are only even alone once between meeting and declaring love for each other, I just felt like it happened too quickly and it was hard to see the strength of their connection, particularly when compared with Felix’s relationship with each of them. So I wished there had been more development on that side of the trio, but overall I enjoyed these guys together and love the way they care about and support each other.

I did wish for a little more happening in the story overall. Things felt very flat for most of the book, leading up to a big battle at the end. I had the same issue with the first story and in both cases there seems to be a lot of planning and strategizing with nothing really happening early on. It is hard to even summarize the plot because it seems like 90% of the story happens in the last 10% of the book. I also think the book would have benefited from some more character development. I feel like Felix is the only one we really get to know in depth. Luka’s story with the werewolf community seems just sprinkled in. We are told about problems and crises, but so little attention is paid to them and we learn little about him emotionally or the impact it all has on him.

This book once again ends on a cliffhanger. There is resolution in one area (which, honestly feels like an afterthought given how quickly the story moves on to another problem), but something else occurs that will presumably be the focus of the next book. Hunted is already out (and on my TBR list), so you don’t have to wait to get the final story. I am curious about how it all ends and will following up with the next book soon.

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